In 1944, the writer Antoine de Saint-Exupery was flying reconnaissance missions with the Free French forces. He was also working on what would be his last book: the philosophical musings of the fictional ruler of a fictional desert kingdom. St-Ex was killed in action before he got the chance to finalize the manuscript, but it was published as Citadelle in French and under the somewhat unfortunate name Wisdom of the Sands in English.
In one passage, the ruler muses that the criminal who has been sentenced to death may well contain an inward beauty of some form…but goes on to justify his execution:
For by his death I stiffen springs which must not be permitted to relax.
I thought about this passage when I heard about the decision of the Scottish authorities to release the Lockerbie bomber Al Megrahi, who has now received a hero’s welcome in his native Libya.
NeoNeocon quotes Geoffrey Robertson:
His release, in order that the criminal state which approved his crime may celebrate it and so justify its criminal actions (which include provision of semtex for many IRA atrocities as well as training terrorists for worldwide barbarities and the assassination of Gaddafi’s opponents at home and abroad, and in several cases in England), is a sad day for humanity and for the struggle for global justice. We should be ashamed that this has happened.
Why was Al Megrahi released? The official reason was “humanitarianism.” Two other factors may well have played a part: business relationships, and Scottish nationalism (taking the form of we-don’t-care-what-anyone-else-thinks-we’re-going-to-do-what-we-want.)
Whatever the reasons, Al Megrahi’s release has the opposite effect from stiffening “the springs which must not be permitted to relax.” Indeed, it is so egregious that it practically breaks those springs in two. There can be little doubt that such a projection of Western weakness is an encouragement to future acts of terrorism.
The Obama administration has been critical of the release and the hero’s welcome…in tones of soaring oratory, President Obama said:
I think it was highly objectionable.
…this referring, I believe, to the welcome rather than to the release itself. (Apparently Obama had earlier “warned” Colonel Gadhafi “not to give him a hero’s welcome.”) A State Department spokesman said:
…he would not say that “single event at an airport” will cause the U.S. to “totally reconsider our relationship with Libya, but we will be watching as they go forward how this man is treated.”
So much for the cost to Gadhafi of ignoring an Obama “warning.”
As this post points out, the Obama administration itself has released or offered relatively light sentences to terrorists who most rational people would have preferred to see imprisoned for life, or even executed.
Meanwhile, the Iranian regime has repaid Obama’s diplomatic initiatives–and his recognition of them as the “elected government” of that country–and his apologies for the United States–by appointing, as its Defense Minister, a man wanted by Interpol in connection with the 1994 bombing of a synogogue in Argentina–a bombing that killed 85 people.
Weakness and submissiveness invite contempt and attack.